National Concrete Masonry Association Letter to Rep. Issa Page
Impact of Job Growth if Adopted. It is conceivable that a sizeable portion of the concretemasonry industry would be significantly impacted by this rule because the expense ofhandling fly ash as a hazardous waste. Resulting increased costs could drive concreteusers to alternate construction means like building with wood and steel, which could beinferior to concrete products for their applications, more expensive, or both. Job losscould be overwhelming and occur in every state, dramatically affecting an industryalready crippled by the lingering effects of the recession.Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica – OSHA Rulemaking
Issue. OSHA is scheduled to publish a proposed standard for occupational exposure tocrystalline silica in April. We expect that it will cut in half the existing permissibleexposure limit (PEL) for crystalline silica. Workers exposed to excessive levels ofrespirable crystalline silica for long periods of time can develop silicosis and, according toOSHA, may face an increased risk of lung cancer as well. But the evidence does notestablish that these increased risks will be found in workers whose exposures aremaintained at or below the current PEL.Background. Though OSHA has been working on a crystalline silica standard for manyyears, it has not sponsored a study to determine whether American workers today are atincreased risk of developing silicosis (or possibly lung cancer) if their exposures do notexceed the current PEL. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that complying with thecurrent PEL is sufficient to prevent cases of silicosis. And even if crystalline silicaexposures can cause lung cancer, a position that remains controversial, exposures thatare not high enough to cause silicosis will not increase the risk of lung cancer either.Position. Health and welfare of workers in our industry is of utmost importance. Ifscientific studies showed that reducing the PEL is necessary to reduce cases of silicosisand risks of lung cancer, NCMA would be more receptive to OSHA’s expected proposal.However, we do not believe the body of science shows that to be the case. The publicwould be better served, in our opinion, if OSHA focused its resources upon ensuring thatall employers are complying with the current PEL. This, we believe, will adequatelyaddress any health risks associated with exposure to crystalline silica. Thoughsupplementing the current standard with certain ancillary requirements, e.g., exposuremonitoring and medical surveillance, is a separate question, but cutting the current PELin half is not justified by supporting evidence at this time.
Impact on Job Growth if Adopted. Any further lowering of the PEL will only lead toincreased costs for employers, passed-on costs to consumers, lost jobs for workers, andmore community hardship – all without doing a thing to provide more protection toworkers.Workplace Noise Control Rule, Reinterpretation -- OSHAIssue. OSHA has announced its intent to change its official interpretation of existingfederal noise exposure standards in a way that would, among other things, fundamentallychange the hierarchy of controls to now
require “engineering and administrative controls”to maintain noise levels below a minimum daily dose. These controls mean noisecancellation technologies for the individual worker and broad noise reduction for theentire worksite or plant setting. Assuming that meeting these requirements istechnologically possible at all, the costs to employers in our industry would beastronomical.Background. Construction and manufacturing work sites are inherently noisy. Employershave long recognized, if for none other than a productivity standpoint, the importance of